Raymond can Rhule at World Cup
Raymond Kofi Rhule may be one of the hottest properties on the South African scene, but the teenager won't be rushed into Test rugby.
Rhule, the Ghanaian-born Free State Cheetahs flyer, will only turn 20 this week – while training with the Springbok team ahead of their opening match of the year-end tour, against Ireland.
However, don't expect to see him start for the Boks in Dublin.
Coach Heyneke Meyer said the youngster will be "eased" into the Test arena, even in the absence of the injured Bryan Habana.
In fact the teenager, who is as much at home in the midfield as he is on the wing, is being groomed to be a star at the 2015 World Cup in England.
"I always said I won't throw players to the wolves," Meyer said.
"I have always eased some players in. I have never worked with Raymond Rhule – before I throw a player in [at the deep end] I first want to see how mentally tough he is and I want to see him train with the squad.
"He will have the opportunity to train with the team, but I won't throw a guy in if he is not ready.
"It is more a question of taking him along and getting him used to the game plan.
"He is a guy who can be there at the next World Cup ."
In the absence of Habana it is likely that Francois Hougaard, who started at scrumhalf earlier in the year, will appear on the wing – along with JP Pietersen, the latter now fully fit after missing the Rugby Championship through injury.
"At this stage I will probably look at him [Hougaard] on the wing, especially in those conditions," he said about the opening Test against Ireland on Saturday.
"[Scrumhalf] Ruan [Pienaar] has played there [in Ireland and the United Kingdom], he knows the conditions and he has done well.
"It is great to have a guy who can also cover at No.9, but at this stage I see him more as a wing," Meyer said of Hougaard.
Another player likely to play a crucial role on tour is Western Province's match-winning centre Juan de Jongh.
"Has improved tremendously," Meyer said of the WP midfielder, who has played mostly a supporting tole at the Bok team this year.
"However, without being disparagingly you have to look at who he played against in the Currie Cup.
"We have, in the past, made the mistake of calling up players based purely on Currie Cup form and then they disappear – never to be heard of again.
"Juan has already proved himself at Super Rugby level and he was on the bench in the last two Tests.
"He is making great progress and we are a bit thin at centre.
"I don't look at just one Currie Cup game, I look at how he progressed throughout the year.
"What makes him a good option is that he plays with Jean de Villiers and he is a very good defender, which we'll need in those conditions."
By Jan de Koning